Gunemba eyes Club World Cup

Raymond Gunemba will captain Lae City FC at the OFC Champions League 2020. Photo: OFC Media.

Raymond Gunemba will retire a happy man if he can help take Lae City FC to the FIFA Club World Cup. The veteran striker admits he might be entering the latter stages of his career but would love to take his side through to the world stage as a last hurrah.

Papua New Guinea’s Lae are playing in Group B of the OFC Champions League 2020 and open their campaign against the Henderson Eels at Luganville Stadium on Saturday.

Lae have qualified for the quarter-finals of the Champions League for the past two years but Gunemba, 33, wants to march further.

“Our aim is to try to qualify and make it to the Club World Cup,” the Lae captain said.

“So, I’m still playing, and I hope that one day if we qualify, I can retire from there.”

Gunemba has played for Lae since they were formed in 2014 but has also pulled on the boots for the Henderson Eels in the Solomon Islands and Geelong Soccer Club in Australia in recent years. He also turned out for the Hamilton Wanderers in the 2016-2017 ISPS Handa Premiership in New Zealand.

Prior to Lae’s inception, Gunemba represented Hekari United in his homeland of Papua New Guinea.

He also has a decorated international career and was the golden boot at the 2016 OFC Nations Cup with five goals as Papua New Guinea finished second after losing the final to New Zealand.

Gunemba made his international debut in 2012 and has accumulated 20 caps and scored 11 goals.

Gunemba’s brother Troy plays as a defensive midfielder for Lae and their father Peter coaches the team.

Peter, who also has daughters that play for the Papua New Guinea national women’s team, said it was great to have such a strong family connection in the club.

“I think Raymond is a very fine player and Troy does well in the midfield; he’s most solid in defence,” Peter said of his boys.

It would be a huge moment for their family if they could help take Lae to the FIFA Club World Cup and that journey begins on Saturday.

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